Editor Note: hope you enjoyed the A to Z Blog Challenge. After spending all this time with the alphabet, I decided to give you even more Surprise Bonus Content with Pangrams.
How often does every letter in the alphabet appear in a sentence?
The word pangram comes from the Greek root words pan, meaning “all,” and gram, which means “something written or recorded.”
A perfect pangram is a sentence that use each letter of the alphabet only once. Did you know every language has its own alphabet? That means the lengths of perfect pangrams vary by language. For example, a perfect pangram in Khmer (spoken in Cambodia) will have 74 letters. One in Rotokas (spoken in Papua New Guinea) has only twelve letters. English has 26 letters.
The Quick Brown Fox Jumps Over The Lazy Dog
The best known pangram in English is “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog,” a sentence that’s often used for touch-typing practice, and one that I typed a lot learning the placement of the keys! That sentence has been used since at least the late 19th century, and was utilized by Western Union to test Telex/TWX data communication equipment for accuracy and reliability.
Examples of Pangrams
- “Sphinx of black quartz, judge my vow”: Used by Adobe InDesign to display font samples. (29 letters)
- ”The quick onyx goblin jumps over the lazy dwarf”: Flavor text from an Unhinged Magic Card. (39 letters)
- ”Cozy lummox gives smart squid who asks for job pen”: A tester sentence for Mac computers after System 7. (41 letters)
- “Jaded zombies acted quaintly but kept driving their oxen forward.” (55 letters)
- “Brown jars prevented the mixture from freezing too quickly.”
- “The girl loved a joyful boy who quickly fixed her zany problems.” (52 letters)
- “Amazingly few discotheques provide jukeboxes.” (40 letters)
- “By Jove, my quick study of lexicography won a prize.” (41 letters)
- “No kidding—Lorenzo called off his trip to Mexico City just because they told him the conquistadors were extinct.”
- My favorite proposal for a 26-letter pangram requires an entire story for comprehension (thanks to Dan Lufkin of Hood College):
During World War I, Lawrence’s Arab Legion was operating on the southern flank of the Ottoman Empire. Hampered by artillery fire from across a river, Lawrence asked for a volunteer to cross the river at night and locate the enemy guns. An Egyptian soldier stepped forward. The man was assigned to Lawrence’s headquarters [G.H.Q. for ‘general headquarters’–this becomes important later] and had a reputation for bringing bad luck. But Lawrence decided to send him. The mission was successful and the soldier appeared, at dawn the next morning, at a remote sentry post near the river, dripping wet, shivering, and clad in nothing but his underwear and native regimental headgear. The sentry wired to Lawrence for instructions, and he replied:
Warm plucky G.H.Q. jinx, fez to B.V.D.’s (Stephen Jay Gould, Bully for Brontosaurus. W. W. Norton, 1992)
What can you use Pangrams for?
They are useful to children that are learning to write, practice their handwriting, or learn cursive. They also used pangrams to make sure each key of a typewriter worked correctly. Today, designers use them to see what each letter of a font will look like before using it.
Interested in pangrams using languages other than English?
Editor Note: The pangram “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog”, and the search for a shorter pangram, are the cornerstone of the plot of the 2002 novel Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn. The search successfully comes to an end when the phrase “Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs” is discovered.
Finally… Now you know about the pangram, but what about the lipogram? What’s the difference between the two?
Pangram featured image courtesy of Jeff Canham